Marvel is back at it, but this time with an animated show! Please do not read on if you don’t want to know any spoilers for What If … Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?!
What was it about?
A single moment can change everything and so it happened that Peggy Carter took the serum instead of Steve Rogers, altering the course of reality.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to review this show, or even watch it, to be completely honest. I am a huge Marvel geek, so I like their content, but I’m really picky about animated content I consume. I don’t know why, but I just struggle getting into things that aren’t live action or a very particular style I fancy.
The animation style of What If …?, while at times beautiful, is not my favorite. I don’t think that they really caught the likeness of all the characters we know so well and even though they tried to get most of the people who played the live action counterparts to voice the same characters on the show, there are several actors not involved in the project. I’m not saying all of that’s an insurmountable problem, but it did put me off slightly.
The first episode in the series introduces us to the Watcher. He is our narrator and guide through the new realities. Right at the beginning, he explains that time and space is a prism of endless possibilities and that every single choice can lead to an infinite number of realities. Releasing this after the finale of Loki therefore makes a lot of sense, showing us what is all potentially out there and simultaneously declaring all of what we see as canon.
This episode in particular focused on how things would be different if Peggy Carter had received the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. Here are some of the most notable points that were made:
- Peggy Carter was always a force to be reckoned with. Of course, it was sad to see her be dismissed, even after she had become a super soldier, but we already knew how capable she was. It came as no surprise that she changed minds rather quickly through her actions. There didn’t seem to be a big adjustment period to her new strength and abilities, which was interesting. She might be stronger than Steve ever was.
- I very much appreciated the fact that Steve wasn’t intimidated or turned off by Peggy after her change. He fell in love with her as a person and their story continued on just as sweetly as it would have were the roles reversed. We knew he was a good guy, but that proved it again.
- In this version of events, Peggy gets the tesseract from Red Skull and Howard Stark builds a suit of armor for Steve powered by it. They call it the Hydra Stomper, but it is very much reminiscent of an early prototype for a later Iron Man suit. Can you imagine Steve Rogers as the first Iron Man? I cannot, but it worked here.
- Steve enlists Peggy to save the 107th and that leads to Bucky hanging out with Howard Stark, which I find hilarious in my head for some reason. Can you imagine unburdened Bucky from the 40s just getting into all sorts of trouble with Howard? Because I sure can!
- Peggy, Steve and the Howling Commando try to capture Red Skull on the train again. It’s a similar scene to the one Bucky first “died” in, but Peggy catches him. He thanks her for it by saying that she nearly ripped his arm off, a callback like many others during the episode. In the end, it is Steve who falls victim to an explosion and is believed to have perished.
- All of it was a ploy by the Red Skull to capture Steve though, who survived due to his suit, and get the tesseract back. He uses it to open a portal, which releases a monster with massive tentacles. I’m not sure what monster it is exactly. It resembles quite a few possible candidates.
- As Peggy and the squad discover that Steve is alive and try to stop the monster from devouring them all, Peggy picks up a sword to fight back. This is another (aside from the suit and shield) reference to Captain Britain, who did carry a sword. She eventually manages to drive the monster back through the portal, but only by sacrificing herself. In typical Steve-Peggy-devastating-last-conversation-fashion, he tells her she still ows him a dance.
- Now we jump about 70 years into the future, when Nicky Fury and Clint Barton accidentally activate the tesseract in the present day, releasing Captain Carter in the process. This is where the episode ends, similar to how Steve woke up in present day New York, sad that he couldn’t keep his date with Peggy.
- Lastly, throughout the episode, there were a lot of visual and other callbacks to “our” version of events, such as Peggy furiously knocking a punching bag off its hook or making fun of the ORS tours. They are nice and aplenty, if you want to go hunting for them in the brief air time.
I’m sure there are important bits that I missed, but overall, I didn’t think it was *that* different or mind-blowing. I thought I would be more impressed? Seen as this is a bit of a one shot thing, with each episode focusing on a different character, I can’t help but wonder what the purpose of this particular story was. Everything is always so interconnected these days, with actors hinting at the show influencing future events, that my brain won’t stop trying to figure out what it could all mean.
All in all, this was enjoyable, but I’m a bit unclear on what this means for the future of the MCU. Am I supposed to be prepared for an appearance of Captain Carter in the upcoming live action movies, because we are now dealing with the multiverse? Is this all completely inconsequential? I guess only future episodes will tell.